Summer is a very special time in my home now that both kids are in college. For nine months they live across the country and I parent from afar.
But summer brings them back to me and for three months I have a full house again, and I’m full swing into mommy-mode, and there is bliss even in the chaos.
I know those few months will go fast and I dread to think of the end of summer when we have to part, having to make that transition yet again now that we’re empty nesters and there is no little one left behind to help cushion the blow.
That’s what makes traveling with my family the highlight of the summer. It’s 24/7 uninterrupted family time and gives everyone a chance to reconnect. We’ve been traveling with our kids since they were little so they’re seasoned travelers who love adventure and experiencing new things.
And even though they’re grown they still look forward to our family time and make it a priority. Fancy that?
What I love most about traveling is that it feels like my home life freezes and time stands still. Getting out of my routine, as hard as that is for me sometimes, is the most exhilarating feeling.
I have found that as much as I don’t like to fly, I love to travel, and once that plane takes off (and the Xanax has kicked in) the vacation has started and any stress real or imagined begins to slip away.
I always go with the lofty notion that I will make some profound discovery about myself or make a change for the better and come home renewed. I make lists of things I want to do or need to fix. I create projects for myself. It’s all very inspiring. Sometimes the only real change I’ve made is that I’ve gained a few pounds, but I always remain hopeful. Regardless of how long the vacation, there is always something to be learned.
10 Travel tips I learned while on vacation this summer:
1. Keep a deck of cards on you at all times, and handy-wipes too. One kills time, the other germs.
2. Take as many photos as you can and don’t obsess about what you look like. One day you’ll look back and think how good you looked.
3. Give up any idea of a normal routine and go with the flow. If we manage to do half the things we planned to do, it’s an enormous success. Some of our most memorable moments happened spontaneously.
4. Adopt to the customs where you are. Whether dining later, dressing with more flare, or speaking the native tongue as best you can, it enhances the experience. Personally, I adore the way some cultures kiss on both cheeks upon greeting. I do this with my kids. One kiss is never enough with someone you love.
5. When touring, keep gum, snacks, and water in your purse, because if you’re like me, you will get hungry and thirsty at the most inconvenient times.
6. That being said, don’t drink a lot of water before or during touring, bathrooms may be scarce, or worse, in a condition you wouldn’t use if your life depended on it (I learned this lesson the hard way). Keep tissues on you at all times, because in some of the more exotic locales, the toilet tissue may not only be rationed – requiring you to be extremely efficient – it definitely won’t be Charmin. Also, remember to have coins handy, you might have to tip to use the loo.
7. Don’t let fear run your life. Push yourself. I truly hate to fly, but I won’t let it stop me from traveling. It would be sad to miss out on so many of life’s adventures.
8) Try new things. Eat new things. Expand your mind and culinary repertoire. If your health allows, try whatever sweet or savory delight the place you’re visiting is famous for. If nothing else, eating monkey’s brains makes a good story.
9) Being away from home is a good time to break an old habit and create a new one. We all try to pick something to work on. I try to stay away from Diet Coke and read and exercise more.
10) Men, regardless of how buff their bodies are, shouldn’t wear Speedos. Enough said.
Connie McLeod says
I love your list and I have an addendum to #6.
Use the restroom every time you see one. You don’t always know when you’ll see another!
Linda, these are all so very true and I especially love the speedo comment. Thanks for such a great checklist.
Nancy Hill says
A very practical article. You address one of the secrets of Momdom… we consciously plan on having all those little necessities in our shoulder-wrenchingly heavy bags. Perhaps #11 should be: Use a beautiful backpack as a handbag.
Caryn/The Mid Life Guru says
As always, you are spot on and bring a smile to my face. Thanks, Linda.
Helene Cohen Bludman says
Great post! The water is indeed an issue. Do you go thirsty or risk not being able to find a restroom? Hard decision.
Lori Lavender Luz says
Great tips, especially “One day you’ll look back and think how good you looked.”
And yes about the Speedos! My sisters and I call men trapped in the wrong swimsuit “Transspeedites.”
I like Connie’s addendum, too.
Janie Emaus says
I know what you mean about having time stand still. I love family vacations.
Karen D. Austin says
Oh, I always have to monitor hydration when traveling. I’m either parched (while flying, driving) or swallowing a waterfall (when I have good access to a clean bathroom). And “ditto” on the speedo observation. Thanks for the tips!
Karen Irving says
Great tips, especially the one about not letting fear run your life…or your vacation! Also: toilets in Europe can be an adventure. Wish I’d read your tip about BYOTP!
Alexandra Williams says
My mom hated how she looked in pics, so we have very few pictures of her from our growing-up years. What a shame. Now she’ll let us take pics, as she has realized her days are numbered and she wants the grandkids to remember her.
Sharon Greenthal says
I am so not adventurous about travel – but I’m trying to change that! Great advice from a seasoned traveler.
Carpool Goddess says
As my MIL would say, “Do it now, while you still can!”
Beverly Diehl says
Love these tips, especially #6 – Tissues on hand at ALL times.
I would say, yes, take many pictures, and yes, don’t obsess about the way you look – but don’t spend ALL your time behind the lens. Otherwise you won’t have memories of the places you visit, you’ll be looking at photos and won’t even remember being there.
Ginger Kay says
That second item is true of life itself. So much worry is wasted over how we look, and when we look back, with less critical eyes, we’re so grateful that there are any photographs of us at all.
Kathy Marris says
Linda, these are great travel tips. I think it is very important to immerse yourself in the culture of the place of travel and try new experiences. It enriches the soul!
Barbara Albright says
Fun and practical tips – thanks for sharing. It’s the little things sometimes, isn’t it? Like when people eat and how and where they use the bathroom – that are key to being prepared for when away from one’s own customs.
Marion Ostrow says
Pictures are great, BUT no one uses albums anymore. Yes albums in a file on their I- phones, I-pads. What a shame.
I always carry water, but love what u said about certain bathroom conditions, was great! Traveling with adult children seems like it would be easiser, but always ( like u said ) prepair for the unexpected.
Great tips – thanks for sharing! I love family vacations – it’s so great to have the attention of everyone, even for a short time. Hope you have a wonderful summer with your kids!
Carpool Goddess says
Thank you! Hope you have a wonderful summer with your family too!
Lisa Newlin says
Good call on the cards and handi-wipes! I also never take any pictures. I’m the worst at it, which is strange because I’m always bummed when I return from a trip that I didn’t take more pictures.
Amen on the speedos.